Being a mom sure isn’t easy. Sleepless nights. Endless diapers. So very much crying (and sometimes the baby isn’t the only one crying!). Wearing yoga pants that are covered in spitup because I haven’t found time to do laundry in a week. And when was the last time I showered? Hmmm…
Then you’ve got toddlers. Feeding struggles. Seemingly infinite requests for my attention. How on earth did you get that permanent marker? I’m sorry but I cannot give you the cracker that I just ate – it doesn’t matter how hard you cry about it! (True story!)
Motherhood is seriously tough for everyone – there’s no doubt about that. But being a mom with a chronic illness presents some additional challenges. I had to go off the medications that were controlling my disease and suffer with untreated RA to even become a mom in the first place. I had to stop breastfeeding sooner than I wanted to so that I could start back on my meds. And, even though I am now taking medication to control my disease, unfortunately my RA does still limit me as a mother.
Sometimes it hurts too much to pick up my kids or get down on the floor and play. I have trouble opening bottles and buckling car seats. And the regular sleeplessness of parenthood combined with the fatigue of RA can sometimes leave me feeling completely unable to get out of bed – but I have to get out of bed and take care of the kids anyways. And that can make me a grumpy mama with less patience than I would like to have.
I’m not going to lie: on the days when I am really struggling to function – when I’m forced to let my kids watch way too much Daniel Tiger or play too long on the iPad just to survive the morning – I do feel a lot of guilt and frustration about the impact my RA has on my kids.
But you know what? There are also a lot of things that I hope my sons can learn from growing up with a mom who has a chronic illness. For example:
- Kindness. Everybody needs a little help sometimes. A little bit of kindness can go a long way.
- Gratitude. We need to be grateful for the things that we do have and the things that our bodies can do. We should count our blessings and appreciate all the fun things that we are able to do together.
- Compassion. Just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge someone by how they look on the outside. Almost everybody is struggling with something, even though you may not be able to tell just by looking.
- Strength. Strength isn’t about being the strongest. Sometimes strength is about getting back up when you fall down. Sometimes it’s nothing more than making the decision to try again tomorrow.
- Love. RA may place some limitations on my body, but my love isn’t limited. Love is limitless. If we love each other enough we can always find a way to keep going. No matter what life throws at us.